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NATO and Russia: A New Beginning.

NATO and Russia: A New Beginning

By Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Secretary General



Improving relations between NATO and Russia will require "realism" and "political will," according to NATO Secretary General Rasmussen in a recent speech to the Carnegie Endowment in Brussels.

The current NATO-Russia relationship, he noted, is "burdened by misperceptions, mistrust and diverging political agendas." Some disagreements are "fundamental" and cannot be wished away, but there are enough important areas of common interest that can serve as a foundation upon which to construct the framework for a "new beginning."

Rasmussen offered three main proposals. First, NATO and Russia should strengthen their cooperation in combating terrorism, preventing the further proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, sharing missile defenses, stabilizing Afghanistan, improving joint counter-narcotics efforts in Central Asia, and promoting maritime security. Second, the NATO-Russia Council should be re-vitalized as "a forum for serious dialogue" where both sides can air differences "openly and transparently." Third, there should be a joint review of common challenges and threats.

Rasmussen emphasized that Russia "must realize that NATO is here to stay." NATO endures not because Russia is still viewed as an enemy, but because NATO's members "share common values, and a culture of cooperation [they] want to preserve." Rasmussen acknowledged, however, that NATO must recognize and take into account Russia's legitimate security interests.

Rasmussen's speech preceded President Obama's recent controversial decision to scale-back the Bush administration's plans for ground-based missile defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic. Obama's move has been variously interpreted as a diplomatic "carrot" designed to encourage Russia's help in our efforts to persuade Iran to forego nuclear weapons, or an unwise capitulation to a Russian leadership that still views Central and Eastern Europe as its security sphere.

Reviewed by Francis P. Sempa, Contributing Editor
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Author:Sempa, Francis P.
Publication:American Diplomacy
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Sep 28, 2009
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